BOSTON -- Koji Uehara deserves a break after three perfect saves in three days as Boston's new closer.
So don't look for him coming out of the bullpen in the ninth inning of the next game.
"I'm going to tell them that I'm not available tomorrow," a laughing Uehara said through a translator after the Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 7-5 despite squandering a five-run lead on Friday night.
Joel Hanrahan had blown four of his six save opportunities and had a 9.82 ERA before Tommy John elbow surgery ended his season. Andrew Bailey also struggled and blew two consecutive save chances before manager John Farrell turned to his third option, Uehara.
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"After he went through his throwing program, he said he was good to go" for a third straight day, Farrell said. "So, we were in a save situation, he was going to be the guy."
Jonny Gomes put Uehara in that situation when he broke a tie with a bases-loaded, pinch-hit single in the two-run seventh.
"I'm a grinder," he said. "I'm willing to take one off the neck for the team. You've definitely got to be confident."
Gomes hadn't played in five of the previous six games, but is 4 for 12 with two homers and three RBIs as a pinch hitter. He also is hitting .321 with runners in scoring position.
"With the bases loaded, as disciplined he is with the strike zone, one way or the other it felt like he was going to come through in that situation," Farrell said.
The Red Sox had 15 hits, giving them at least 10 for the sixth time in seven games. They have 93 hits over that span.
The Red Sox won their fourth in a row and improved to 49-33, the best record in the AL and 3 1/2 games over second-place Baltimore in the AL East. They're 16 games over .500 for the first time since they finished the 2011 season at 90-72. Last season, the Red Sox won just 69 games.
Toronto lost its second game of the series after coming to Boston with 12 wins in its previous 14 games.
Boston had led 5-0 through four innings against Josh Johnson, who lasted just 3 1/3 innings and had no decision for the sixth time in his nine starts this year.
"It was one of those frustrating outings where I should have gotten deeper," he said. "They battled me. They made me throw a lot of pitches and ran up my pitch count."
But Toronto scored four runs in the next two innings and tied it in the seventh on a solo homer by Edwin Encarnacion, his 23rd of the year, off Bailey.
"We battled to come back and tie it and then they dropped two on us again real quick," Gibbons said, "but the bullpen can't be perfect every night."
Uehara has been.
He struck out two of the three batters he faced in each of the last three games -- one against Colorado and two against Toronto.
"He's got that changeup and he keeps you off balance and he's very durable and loose," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "They've been trying to find that guy ever since Hanrahan went down and then Bailey struggled and he seems like the perfect guy for it."
The Red Sox went ahead 2-0 in the second on a walk to Napoli, a single by Nava and Stephen Drew's sixth triple of the season and third in four games. Napoli singled in a run in the third before the Red Sox scored two in the fourth when Drew started the rally with a one-out double.
Rajai Davis then led off the sixth with a single, stole second, took third on a groundout and scored on a sacrifice fly by Izturis.
Farrell said Drew is day to day. ... Ellsbury extended his hitting streak to nine games and increased his AL-high total to 22 hits leading off an inning. ... Toronto SS Jose Reyes singled in the third, his first hit since he returned Wednesday after missing 66 games with a severely sprained left ankle. ... Boston rookie SS Iglesias went 2-for-4 and has 52 hits in 124 at bats. ... Johnson, who came to Toronto from Miami after last season, got his only win with the Blue Jays in his previous start, a 13-5 victory over Baltimore. ... Esmil Rogers (3-3) pitches for Toronto on Saturday against Felix Doubront (4-3) in the third game of the four-game series.
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